Christopher Mayer(crifmer)United States
If the economic system is the heart of The Galaxy Corporate, then the influence system is its soul, for better or for worse.
The goal of Star Traders is to get your influence level up to ten. Everyone starts at one and has to work their way up, from a single ship to a trading dynasty. Right now, the only way to do that is by acquiring planets and outposts.
Every region has an influence value, and every planet has an influence value (outposts have no population or influence, they're just there to make a buck). Add these two numbers up, and that's how much your influence would go up if you owned that planet (or outpost).
Your influence level is more than just a measure of your game progress, however. Every round in the influence phase, you can gain an influence token as long as your tokens don't already equal your influence level. These tokens are spendable currency to represent how players can exert their influence.
The main way you'll be using your tokens is to influence the market. In the market phase, you can spend a token and either increase or decrease the price of any one commodity. You'll have to roll the eight-sided die and be confined to the result, but you can do it again and again as long as you have the tokens to spend.
Influence also comes in handy during blockades. In short, blockading a planet or outpost is the way to take it by force. During a blockade, any player can spend influence tokens to make it easier or harder to take that planet or outpost.
As we get into the expansions, there will be other ways to use influence. There are a couple of crew members already which allow you to spend influence to manipulate individual trades.
Next up is a look at what happens when influence and diplomacy fails: combat.